A simple conversation . . . with Brother David Steindl-Rast
Perhaps you know of Brother David Steindl-Rast. A 92 old Benedictine monk, who in 1966, was officially appointed to pursue an interfaith dialogue; resulting in the formation of the Center for Spiritual Studies with fellow Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi teachers.
It was a dialogue that continues today and has come to focus on gratitude. If you are in the world of gratitude, as I am, you have heard of Brother David. I knew of Brother David, before our meeting,
but had never read any of his work . . . sound surprising?
Many of you know my story. After my major familial responsibilities were over, an inspired decision to serve, led me to gratitude. I knew nothing about gratitude outside the regular thank you card stuff, but I made a decision to research gratitude, to practice gratitude, and to live the grateful life . . . whatever that was.
I also made a decision to only read peer reviewed articles from scientific journals. I wanted to know what the academic community said, what they thought gratitude was about, and form my own opinion about gratitude - not by popular psychology or general opinion.
If you've seen my talk on You Tube, you'll see I have magazines focusing on gratitude and positive psychology; they were gifts gladly received, that have to this day, not been read.
Fast forward to August 2018. I am traveling to Europe and begin to think about Brother David, knowing that he spends part of the year in a monastery in Austria. I think I want to meet him. My husband calls the monastery - he is in, and they say send him an email; if we don't hear back, they will follow up . . . friendly enough. It took me awhile to compose the email. I mean this guy rolls with the Dalai Lama . . . so I requested a 'Simple Conversation'. No recording, no interview . . . a simple conversation about gratitude.
A response comes, he is booked well into 2019, but agrees to meet with me, and for the first time, since my gratitude journey began, I begin to read his words. "He knows gratitude like I do"!
Over the next 5 days I downloaded as many of his books as I could find, watched him on You Tube, and basically immersed myself in his work. Over and over again saying "yes, that's it"! In my four years of studying and practicing gratitude, I had come to the same conclusion as someone who had spent decades in its pursuit. I was humbled. Eyes overflowing with tears, I wept.
We all can identify on some level what it is like to come together with like-minded individuals. The rush of excitement, the flow, and now my first true discussion of gratitude outside of my family, was going to be with one of the leading proponents and teachers of gratitude in the world.
I must admit, I was at a bit of a loss on how to proceed. I knew that any type of energetic "let's get this stuff done" type of mentality, wasn't going to work. After all, the meeting was in a monastery with a Benedictine monk coming out of seclusion to meet with me. Most of all, I simply wanted to honor our time together in thanksgiving, and to have as I had promised in my initial correspondence . . .
a simple conversation.
Coming up . . . questions for the teacher.
If you're interested in learning more about Brother David Steindl-Rast and his work, YouTube covers decades of interviews and panel discussions, and his current and archived articles can be found at www.gratefulness.org.